Furball 2024: A Countywide Mission of Support for Our Furry Friends

5/5 - (2 votes)

January/February 2024

Humane Society for Boone County plays a pivotal role in fostering compassion, empathy and responsible stewardship toward animals within our county. Guided by its dedicated leadership, HSforBC serves as a beacon of advocacy and guardianship for the well-being of our canine and feline companions.

The importance of humane societies and their leaders cannot be overstated. They contribute not only to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need but also to the cultivation of a societal ethos that values kindness, respect, and understanding toward all living beings.

For 15 years, Susan Austin has been one of the many compassionate souls who have given their time, talent and treasure to HSforBC. For the last three years, she has honorably served as the organization’s executive director. Though Austin recently announced that she will be retiring as the executive director, she emphasized that she will continue to volunteer at HSforBC once her successor has been named and has taken Austin’s place at the helm.

Humane Society for Boone County

Moments of Reflection and Celebration

For those acquainted with Austin and fortunate enough to have served with her at the HSforBC shelter or any of its noteworthy events in the last 15 years, it comes as no surprise that Austin modestly shies away from taking credit. Instead, she turns the spotlight toward the numerous exceptional individuals who contribute as volunteers or serve on the board of directors.

During our conversation, Austin graciously recounted her proudest achievements and expressed her apprehensions for the future. With the county experiencing growth, the challenges surrounding the welfare of surrendered or abandoned cats and dogs persistently escalate.

Austin shared that there has been a notable focus by the board and HSforBC’s leadership on education and advocacy for volunteerism, spanning from the recession through the pandemic. The efforts have extended to areas such as spay-neuter initiatives, pet pantry services, and vaccinations. HSforBC will expand the existing programming and introduce new initiatives as needed and as resources become available.

Austin, along with her dedicated board and volunteers, deserves commendation for her unwavering emphasis on the education and advocacy of animal welfare throughout these challenging times.

“We were able to raise enough money to buy the [shelter] building outright,” Austin said. “We wanted to make sure that we were on solid footing before we made an investment like that and [that] we would be able to maintain the building. We were able and blessed to find a volunteer contractor who helped us with our initial renovation of the dog runs so that we had more than just the recovery run for the dogs. We were able to do a phenomenal job with the indoor and outdoor kennels and play yard…making sure that the animals are cared for at a greater level than what is just needed.”

When asked what the most impactful lesson has been during her time with HSforBC, Austin replied, “I understand more now that things happen beyond everybody’s realm of control. People are sometimes put in hard situations and have to make difficult choices. There is a compassion piece that continues to develop. You know the saying, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’…in some cases, people are losing their homes. COVID impacted a lot of people financially, and lower-income households are only one crisis away from bankruptcy. If we can help them in some measure by keeping the animals that they love and care for in their homes, that is what we try to do. But even some of our resources are drying up, and it’s heartbreaking.”

In addition to rising expenses for supplies and food, Austin revealed that the costs associated with vaccinations and veterinary services have surged significantly. Austin also explained that fewer individuals are entering the veterinary field, creating a void of trained veterinarians who can address the increasing needs throughout the nation.

It Takes an Entire County

Several moving parts affect the costs and access to services and supplies needed to keep HSforBC operating at the level Boone County residents have become accustomed to. The wheel of support is made up of many spokes that include volunteers, fosters, generous veterinarians and donations.

“The [HSforBC] volunteers have always been the core of the care for the animals,” Austin expressed. “They’re the ones [who] are here 24/7, 365 days, as needed, twice a day, feeding, walking, scooping poop and identifying if a dog isn’t behaving quite ‘right’ and letting the care team know. Many times, we’re able to get at a situation from the beginning if the dog isn’t feeling well, has eaten something it shouldn’t have, or if they’ve come in with parasites. The dedication of the people [who] have built and grown this organization is beyond compare anywhere in this country. We’ve had so many volunteers buy and donate things when they see they are needed at the shelter. Our volunteers are probably our biggest donors, not just in terms of time and talent but also their treasure.”

Austin emphasized that the need for volunteers and fosters remains critical and hopes that more people throughout Boone County will offer support in whatever way is optimal for each individual, family or business.

As a reminder, donations made to other animal welfare organizations outside of Boone County do not come back to HSforBC. The organization does not receive any funds throughout the county via tax dollars. Generous donations and fundraising efforts are the revenue generators for HSforBC, and community partnerships are crucial to the organization’s day-to-day operations.

“We look forward to growing these partnerships and working with other service organizations,” Austin said. “These relationships are so incredibly important. Nothing would have happened for HSforBC if individuals hadn’t taken it upon themselves to find a solution to the problem and the compassionate individuals who keep donating their time to provide solutions and this level of care for the animals of the county [that] have been abandoned, abused or surrendered. It’s going to continue to take each of us [residing in Boone County] to step out of our comfort zones, donate time and show leadership to keep HSforBC moving forward and ensure that it is here to take care of the issues.”

Don’t Miss THE Mardi Gras Pawty of 2024!

Experience a taste of New Orleans with a delectable menu featuring authentic dishes and King Cake! This, and so much more to experience at this year’s Fur Ball, a Mardi Gras Pawty to support HSforBC! This must-attend pawty of the Mardi Gras season features delicious food, lots of fun, silent and live auctions, a dog and cat mask contest, and other surprises! Individual tickets and tables of 10 are available to purchase for this fundraising event.

The Annual Fur Ball

Join us on Saturday, February 24th in the Cardinal Room at the Golf Club of Indiana. If you’re hosting a “viewing pawty” via Zoom, join your fellow HSforBC supporters for the main event, which will begin at 7 p.m.

Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets at hsforbc.org!